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11/27/2012 9:06:00 PM
Pantry helps 200 families with Thanksgiving meals
Marney Simon
Staff writer

Across the area, folks are still recovering from stuffing themselves with turkey and all the trimmings during last week's holiday. But for many, the holidays don't always include the indulgence of a large meal with second helpings.

According to a 2010 study, one in eight Americans seeks out food assistance weekly. The study, conducted by the non-profit group Feeding America, also showed that of those who seek food assistance, nearly half of them have to choose every month whether to pay bills or purchase food.

In Braidwood, volunteers at the Community Care Food Pantry were able to help make Thanksgiving a little more festive for hundreds of locals. The pantry provided Thanksgiving meals this year to 200 area households. Those meals included the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and all the sides.

"Things went very well," pantry director Noreen Brandle said about the Thanksgiving planning.

Brandle said that those 200 meals were in addition to regular monthly food assistance provided by the pantry.

"The month of November was busy, but it was not a lot of new people, it was mostly the same people that we usually see," Brandle noted.

Unfortunately, this year the center will not be able to deliver similar full meals for Christmas, but will continue to offer regular services.

"We weren't able to order that much, and we wouldn't have a place to store it," Brandle said of additional holiday meals. "But we'll probably be giving away more food."

While the center won't be able to give away complete Christmas dinners, clients are still able to collect regular offerings, which include frozen meats and fresh produce, as well as canned and boxed goods. The center will also operate under special hours at the end of December. Due to Thanksgiving and New Year's Day both falling on a Tuesday, the pantry will hold special hours of operation around the holidays. The pantry will be open on Saturday, Dec. 22 and Saturday, Dec. 29 from 8 a.m. until noon both days, to make up for the holiday closings.

Feeding America is currently gathering data for another hunger study, with results due in early 2014.

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Overall, Brandle said the pantry will be ending the year on a positive note.

"Things have been good, contributions have been up, volunteers have been ample, and everything is going well," Brandle said. The pantry celebrated its eighth year in operation last month.

The Community Care Food Pantry provides assistance to those in need who reside in Braceville, Braceville Township, Braidwood, Essex, Essex Township, Garfield Township and Godley.

Distribution hours are Tuesdays from 8 a.m. until noon. Clients need to provide proof of residency, and are asked to sign a form stating that household income does not exceed the limits set by the U.S. Department of Human Services. Eligible households may return once every 30 days. The amount of food available is determined by family size and the amount in stock. The center operates not with employees, but with a team of non-paid volunteers.

Community Care receives regular monthly financial support from local churches, various individuals and civic organizations. The pantry also purchases food at a discounted rate from Northern Illinois Food Bank, and receives government commodities and donated food from various food drives held by local organizations.

Food from the Northern Illinois Food Bank is delivered to the pantry on the first Monday of each month at 9:30 a.m. Brandle said volunteers are always needed to unload the truck, and community members can simply show up to help out with the effort.

The center is located at 112 S. Center St., next to Braidwood City Hall.





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